In 2008, candidate Obama promised that if elected, he would seek to change the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine, reverse the federal government’s interventionist stance on state medical marijuana laws, and end the ban on federal funding for needle exchange.

Upon taking office, the Obama administration immediately changed the bellicose terminology that has long characterized U.S. drug control policy, ceasing to refer to it as a “drug war.” Also, he has implemented modest but important changes to domestic drug policy as supporting community-based prevention programs and integrating drug treatment into mainstream health care.

However, the change in rhetoric and domestic drug policy did not transform the policies and programs implemented on Latinoamerica. For all practical purposes, the U.S. drug war is still going strong and is even being dangerously ratcheted up in Central America. Now elected to a second term, Obama has the opportunity to join the presidents of countries like Guatemala, Colombia, and Uruguay who are calling for drug reform.

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